The believer can find oneself relishing in the mysteries of God. Brian Chilton explains how as he explores Deuteronomy 29:29.
By: Brian G. Chilton | August 14, 2022
The mysteries of God are something that should be relished and appreciated by the believer. While it sounds strange, a believer can find comfort in the fact that some things about God and his plans may remain hidden from human knowledge.
A tremendous theological aphorism reveals this truth in Deuteronomy 29:29, which reads, “The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29, CSB). The proverb is located between 29:22–28, which speaks to the punishments God inflicted on the nation of Israel for their rebellion and disloyalty in times past, and 30:1–10, which speaks to the future blessings Israel would find when they remembered their covenant responsibilities to God.
The Israelites may have wondered why God allowed them—his covenant people—to be taken into captivity in Egypt as he did. Some may even ask why God the Creator would even care whether people were faithful to him or not. Why should such a massive, awe-inspiring God concern himself with the affairs of mankind? Other theological inquiries were certainly made by the people of God during that time. Nonetheless, Deuteronomy 29:29 encouraged the people to relish and rest in the mysteries of God in three ways.
Relishing in the Hidden Mysteries of God
Some commentators hold that Deuteronomy 29:29 can stand alone on its own merits, and for good reason. Deuteronomy 29:29 is compelling in that it does not seek to answer the theological questions held by the people. Neither does it attempt to provide an answer for why God allowed the nation to undergo some of the difficulties they had encountered mentioned earlier in the text, outside of the importance of their covenantal agreement with God. Rather, the text encourages believers in that some things are only known to God and will never be understood by humanity.
Paul picks up on this notion in Romans 9. At that time, many had wondered why God had chosen Israel as his covenant people. Many others wondered why Gentiles were being allowed into the family of God. Paul answers, “On the contrary, who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” (Rom. 9:20, CSB). In some sense, Paul’s answer extends back to the logic of Deuteronomy 29:29—some things about God and his plans cannot be known by humanity.
Relishing in the Revealed Mysteries of God
But what about those truths that God has revealed to humanity? Deuteronomy 29:29 notes that people should claim the revealed truths of God and live according to the standards given therein. While it is fun to discuss and contemplate the hidden mysteries of God, we also bear responsibility for following those things that God has revealed about himself to us. The Israelites enjoyed a covenant relationship with God. While modern believers are under a new and better law of grace, we also find ourselves responsible for those things that God expects of us. Among the more important matters include the following:
- Loving God with all our being (Deut. 6:5ff; Matt. 22:37).
- Loving our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39).
- Loving others with the love given to us by God (Jn. 13:34).
Relishing in the Teleological Mysteries of God
When I say teleological here, I speak to where the logic of the hidden mysteries of God leads. In other words, what is the result of divine hidden mysteries? What should we take from this? Even though inquisitive minds desire to know the depths of God’s infinite wisdom, it is actually comforting that we cannot know everything about God. If we could, then it could be argued that God was merely a human invention. Since we cannot know everything about God, even with the revealed information given to us, then we can know that God is greater, grander, and far more awe-inspiring than what we could ever imagine.
I am writing a book on heaven. In my research on heaven, I have learned that heaven is not going to be boring. Rather, we will spend an eternity learning more and more about the nature of God. As a trained systematic theologian, I take comfort in that notion. Heaven becomes even more compelling and fascinating when we know that we will continue to learn about God for all of time.
The mysteries of God should not startle or discourage us. We know that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16) and does not lie (Titus 1:2). Because of God’s loving and holy nature, he can be trusted. Furthermore, God has given us enough information to know how we can have a relationship with him, how this salvation transforms us, and what the end result of history will be. However, inabilities to resolve certain theological conundrums should not depress or disturb the believer. Rather, it only propagates the truths found in Deuteronomy 29:29 in that some truths are only known and understood in the mind of God. Seeing that God created all that exists, the scientific, theological, historical, and philosophical matters known only to God far excels what little insights are actually known and understood by humanity.
About the Author
Brian G. Chilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theology and Apologetics program at Liberty University. He is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast and the founder of Bellator Christi. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); earned a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and plans to pursue philosophical studies in the future. Brian is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.
Brian has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a clinical hospice chaplain. Additionally, he serves as an editor for the Eleutheria Journal. At the prompting of the Lord, Brian established Bellator Christi Ministries in 2012. The ministry is aimed to provide readily available resources in theology, apologetics, biblical studies, and philosophy to those who want to know what Christianity teaches and why it should be believed. In 2019, Brian published his first book entitled the Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. After finishing his Ph.D., Brian intends to publish more books. His areas of expertise include early NT creeds, near-death experiences, biblical reliability, the blend of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the need for empathy.
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 Stephen J. Andrews and Robert D. Bergen, Deuteronomy, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Max Anders, ed (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2009), 332–333.